Dear Immanuel Church Family,
How does the church respond in this era of COVID-19?
Over the last 24 hours, the corona virus situation in the U.S. and in Wisconsin has changed drastically. Globally, we are in a “pandemic.” The U.S. has instituted emergency precautions. Yesterday, the Governor of Wisconsin declared a state of emergency. Cases in Wisconsin have gone from 1, last Sunday, to 8 active cases today. There are currently active cases in Waukesha County and Fond du Lac County, our neighbors to the south and north. Conditions and recommendations are changing hourly as this is an evolving situation.
Yesterday, I received new precautionary recommendations from Franz Rigert, our General Conference Minister that oversees all the UCC Churches in Wisconsin. Based on this latest information, I believe we can safely gather this Sunday under general precautionary measures. These measures include minimizing proximity (less than 3 feet), avoiding shaking hands and “passing the peace”, avoiding person-to-person contact, maintaining proper hygiene and hand washing, and staying home if you are sick or your health status is extremely vulnerable. We have already begun taking extra measures at cleaning and sanitizing the church building, and there will be sanitizer readily available.
Also, recognizing the need to prepare for further measures in future weeks, we hope to live-stream Sunday’s service on Facebook, as well as making the recorded service available on YouTube. We’ll send you links for these broadcasts once they are set in place. This will allow those who are uncomfortable attending service to still participate with us in worship.
Regarding Sunday morning Christian Education Ministries for our youth, we have decided to put J.A.M. Time, Confirmation, and Shine on hold until further notice. We certainly encourage families who wish to attend church to worship together, keeping in mind there will be childcare provided if need be. Adult Education will also be deferring their class at this point too. Children’s Choir will still plan on practicing this Sunday at 10:00am as usual.
Because we are congregation with a wide spectrum of opinions and beliefs, I recognize that some will consider these measures “too extreme” and others will consider them to be “not enough”. Regardless of where you personally stand, it is my prayer that you will view our response as a responsible attempt to seek the welfare of our church, our community, and our world. I am convinced that we all share the belief that our purpose as God’s church is to “shine the light of God’s love to the world” and that means, at the very least, seeking to love and serve others first, even sometimes at our own expense.
In closing, this is not a time to panic, but it is certainly NOT a time for business as usual either. I will continue to work with church leadership to provide timely and factual information upon which we will make the best decisions possible.
Grace and peace,